While I was in North Africa last fall it seemed like there was something new to discover every day. Basically everything was exciting; local food, traditions, beliefs, phrases, etc. An excitement I realized I no longer have for the Dominican Republic. However, I hope to regain some of that excitement of discovery for this country, because though I sometimes feel like a pro on Dominican culture I have so much more to learn….. I just have to become a learner again!
Pinky swear or Enemy swear
A friend and I decided to hold each other accountable for something the other day, so I ended our conversation with suggesting that we pinky swear (if you not sure what that is you can look it up on Wikipedia). To my surprise my friend told me that was bad here….. actually here it’s a way for two people to agree that they’ll be enemies forever. (I wonder how many times I’ve offended these past 9 years by shaking little fingers with them?)
Grieving the Dead
The other night Rod and I drove a dying man to the hospital only to find out that he’d died before we arrived, and there was nothing the doctors could do. Just over an hour after we left the hospital an ambulance brought the body back to his house in the barrio. As a few men carried the coffin inside the family members of the deceased began to wail and scream. One of his sisters screamed loudly, went into convulsions, and passed out for a few minutes. From the response of the large crowd outside the house, these kind of reactions are completely normal, and actually are expected from someone who really loved the deceased. These kind of wails, screams, and expressions of grief can often last through the night and even into the morning until the coffin is carried to the graveyard and buried.
A special dessert made of red beans, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and raisins isn’t just supposed to be made on Good Friday as I had thought, but actually all throughout lent. So yes, I’ve already received my first cup from the neighbors.
Why do they make sweet beans during lent… or at all? I’m still trying to figure that one out.